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Makino: Al Hilal outclassed Urawa Reds

Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds defender Tomoaki Makino conceded he and his teammates were outclassed by Al Hilal SFC as the Saudi Arabian side finally claimed their first-ever AFC Champions League title with victory over the two-time winners on Sunday.

Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s men failed to feed off an electric atmosphere at Saitama Stadium, where the 2017 AFC Champions League winners went down meekly against the visitors from Riyadh.

It was the first time in tournament history that a Japanese club has lost the AFC Champions League final, and Reds defender Makino made no excuses as their bid for a third continental crown was unsuccessful.

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“A lot of things come into play when you win or lose a football match,” he said. “We played a number of teams in the AFC Champions League this season and never felt overwhelmed by anyone.

"But for the first time in a while, we were absolutely creamed by the opposition."

“Each and every player needs to think hard about this defeat and what we need to do to get better from here. We have to improve as a team from a tactical standpoint.

“What stings is that we left everything we had out there and we were still outclassed. Had the performance been even or if we managed to create more chances, it would have been a different story. But it wasn’t.”

#ACLFinal 2019 - 2nd Leg: Urawa Red Diamonds vs Al Hilal SFC

The 2018 FIFA World Cup international for Japan said Urawa dissected the first leg two weeks ago, determined to turn around the 1-0 deficit from the King Saud University Stadium.

Yet the thorough preparation could not ready the Reds for Sunday, when Al Hilal ran away to a convincing 2-0 win and West Asia’s first title since Al Sadd in 2011.

It also was sweet revenge for Al Hilal, who Urawa defeated two years ago to capture their second AFC Champions League crown.

Makino said Al Hilal deserve full credit for the triumph as they became the first Saudi Arabia side to win the competition since Al Ittihad in 2005.

“We had a bit of time so we picked out what worked and what didn’t work in the first leg,” he said. “We trained and prepared as much as we could ahead of today, and we gave the game everything we possibly could."

“You can only tip your hat to them. They beat us in every aspect of the game from technique to physicality to whatever - they fully deserved the victory.

“Compared to two years ago, I think they have done a good job of revitalising the squad. And I think we need to do a better job of signing foreign players and use that to our advantage.”

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